This column is the result of a combination of factors at play.
There’s a distrust of the media.
Technology has impacted the production of newspapers and the news.
Transparency is good thing.
And there’s a few anomalies when it comes to putting out a newspaper that I believe should be explained but I’m not sure if all of our readers are aware of. Or perhaps they’re aware of the anomaly but don’t know what it means. More on this later.
Consequently, I plan to write on a more regular basis about the nuts and bolts of putting out both your newspaper and the increasingly important website and social media associated with it.
I see myself writing about a variety of things: explaining why we do things the way we do, providing background on how some stories and photos come about, clarifying the reasons why things are written the way they are, and a lot more. I might even brag a little when (if) it’s ever warranted.
I believe there’s a degree of misunderstanding about the way newspaper and, in fact, any media outlet does what it does. And the fault is at least partially ours. We may not have explained things particularly well. If at all. I know I’m surprised by the reactions to certain stories and items we publish.
So, some transparency is probably warranted.
A few weeks back I wrote a column about the relationship between our website, the print product and our social media platforms. I got good feedback on that and felt, okay, people would appreciate some more insight into how and why we do things. At the very least, it gives me something to write about, something that, I hope, will be useful. Writing is more forthcoming when I have a reason other than “it’s my turn to write a column so I better come up with something.”
The anomaly I referred to earlier that has been on my mind is the time lag between when news happens and when it comes out in the print product, i.e., the newspaper as opposed to our website.
News happens all the time and the great thing about our website is that now as a non-daily newspaper, we can get the story out as soon as, if not sooner, than our broadcasting competitors. We can get a story out on our website within a matter of minutes.
And so for the last few years we’ve set about transforming ourselves from a “weekly (actually twice-weekly) newspaper” to a nearly-instant news outlet. Digital first is a buzzword in our company these days. With digital technology, we can compete with larger provincial media, especially on local stories.
And that’s pretty exciting for us as journalists and, I hope, you as readers. But not everybody is a big fan of digital journalism. Lots of people still prefer to get their news in their hands in the form of newsprint.
But the problem with that is, the stories that come out in the newspaper are frequently days old. In fact, when we’re physically putting the paper together (well, on a desktop computer publishing system anyway – not physically like the old days when I started here 30 years ago), we often get a funny feeling that the story has been printed before.
That’s because it has. It was written and published on our website days before. The first opportunity to get it into print often has us feeling like we’re in some kind of time warp.
But, I know that a lot of people are perfectly happy with getting all the week’s news in one fell swoop. The newspaper becomes a digest of the week’s happenings. Save it all up for one or two days a week.
But if you’re like us and often wonder if you’ve read something before, then you’ll know why. There’s a chance you probably have.
Alistair Taylor is editor of the Campbell River Mirror.